During our Laos tour we had a stop in the idylic little city Luang Prabang next to the Mekong River and found by accident the Big Tree Café of the Dutch photographer Adri Berger and his wife Mija Son. The place is a café and a restaurant, but as well a gallery and a cultural meeting place at the same time. If you are around one day, you should have a visit, it´s worth it.
Adri Berger lives since some years in Laos and works for years intensely with the local people and their culture. His photos are fantastic. As well he made movies about the “real” Laos, about traditional events, simple farmers and workers, about elephants and the nature. In a lot of projects he works together with organizations and ministries of the government. In the Big Tree Café you can see a lot of his work, the cozy spot is as well a Adri Berger exhibition. You can find a lot more really amazing foto and video material on his website.
The couple is very involved with social issues and helping the locals in Luang Prabang and around. They teach children, do donation campaigns to get money for books, school materials and the fees. In the café they train stuff to be waiters and workers in the gastronomy, they teach English and give a closer understand of art and photography. Adri Berger arranges as well foto-workshops and organized tours. The events are very popular especially among travelers. If you are interested you have to contact via Email (check the Infothek below), on Youtube you can find as well a promovideo.
Mija Son tells us in an interview about the development of the Big Tree Café, about their voluntary work in Laos and how you can help as well as a tourist:
There are simple options to help if you are on holliday and you pass Luang Prabang. There is for example Big Brother Mouse. They give books for free to schools and children to learn how to read and write, both as well in English and in a simple easy understanding way. You can buy books fort them, and your purchase will directly get delivered to children who need it. The organisation Music for everyone provides free music lessons in Luang Prabang and hosts concerts with children, you can support them as well with donations.
Of course you can get as well delicious food at the Big Tree Café, Mija Son is originally from Korea and brought a lot of nice recipes from there. Adri Berger ist from the Netherlands and so there is European food also on the menu. And for sure Lao food. If you want to cook Lao specialties at home, Mija recommends the cooking book: „Food from Northern Laos – The Boat Landing Cookbook“.
Adri Berger tries with his recordings and picturing to get as close as possible into the theme, the people, the animals and the nature. Here you can have a look on three videos from him, the quality is phenomenal! More on his Vimeo Channel.
INFOTHEK – Big Tree Café
Phone: 020 77776748
INFOTHEK – Adri Berger